Boris Johnson: A case study in presenteeism

The prime minister sent out an unfortunate message when he tried to run the country from his hospital bed.

by Natasha Abramson
Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe /Getty Images
Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe /Getty Images

At a time when the conversation about mental health at work is starting to gain traction, and when respect for employees’ need to switch off is becoming acknowledged, it is disappointing that the Prime Minister, although most likely well-intentioned, did not lead the way in respecting his own health when it comes to work. 

When I first heard news that the PM was in hospital, but that his role had not been immediately deputised, I was extremely disappointed. On his first day back, the now-recovered PM stood at the podium for his coronavirus briefing, and said how important it was that we take care of our health - including our mental health - but that message seemed undermined by his own example.  

Many people think we are now past the age where managers expect employees to work like machines, but I don’t think that is completely true. When the PM first began isolating, he continued to work from home, and with mild symptoms nobody could really blame him - he has a rather important job, after all.  

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